Mom Suing Target for Son's Suicide

Store's 'walk of shame' made Graham Gentles suicidal: lawsuit
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2015 2:17 PM CST
In this Tuesday, March 25, 2014 photo, a sign outside a Target store in Philadelphia is shown.    (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Newser) – A Target employee leapt to his death last summer after being taken on an alleged "walk of shame" through the store—and his mom is suing the company, NBC Los Angeles reports. The suit claims that Graham Gentles, 22, was stopped by security and police when he showed up for work at the store's Pasadena, Calif., location on July 15. Allegedly handcuffed and walked past other workers, Gentles was accused of stealing, interrogated in a private room, driven by patrol car to a police station, and released without charge, the suit says. He was also fired. "The only thing he said to me at that moment was, 'Mom this is the worst day of my life,'" says his mom, Virginia. Gentles jumped from the roof of Courtyard Marriott in Monrovia three days later.

Citing litigation, a Target rep says only that "our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and family of this individual." But according to the suit, the store's alleged actions may have been influenced by a "verbal altercation" Gentles had with another Target worker at a bar months earlier. In another twist, Gentles had Asperger's, which caused him to "hyper focus" on his arrest and created "a perfect storm which resulted in his death," the family's attorney says. Virginia, who says her son denied the theft allegation, sounds like she's still coping: "I don't want any other mother to have to go through what I've gone through," she says. "This is my only child." The lawsuit accuses Target of negligence, false imprisonment, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress, KABC-TV reports. (Two employees died this weekend in a Home Depot murder-suicide.)

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